29 November 2006

cupcakes and aloha

If you've been out and about the metro, then you've probably heard about the flock of new restaurants at the newly-opened Piazza @ Serendra. Being exiled to the Ortigas office has slowed down my attendance rate for new hotspots in the metro, so it took a workday in Makati for me to finally make my way to Serendra.

Being the sugarholic that I am, I immediately made a beeline for Cupcakes by Sonja. My previous experience with cupcakes being Pan-A-Cup cupcakes you could get at your nearest suking tindahan, I was curious about what these much-hyped cupcakes would taste like. The tiny shop looked like those candy shops I'd fantasized about as a child-- pink striped walls, giant peppermints hanging from the ceiling, and a display case filled with the prettiest cupcakes I'd ever seen. They have 27 kinds of cupcakes, with prices ranging from PhP48.00 for the Vanilla Sunshine to a whopping PhP130.00 for the Heavenly Pistachio and Sweet Pleasures cupcakes. I picked the prettiest cakes out of the bunch and happily walked out with six cupcakes in their dainty powder blue box.

Undeniably, all of the cupcakes looked gorgeous... but how did they taste? It was really a case of hit-and-miss. The Melt-In-Your-Mouth Flourless Chocolate Cupcake (described as "a dense Valrhona flourless chocolate with rich, velvety texture") was absolutely divine, but the rest of the cupcakes were nothing out of the ordinary. Yes, they were indeed different from the cupcakes we're used to, but then again, at PhP50-130 you could also get an equally delicious (and larger) slice of cake. Cupcakes by Sonja is worth a try, but in the end you're just paying extra to get your cake in a cup.

Up next was dinner at the Hawaiian-inspired Polu Kai Grill. I came in hoping to learn what Hawaiian food was all about, but Polu Kai's menu leaves much doubt as to whether they serve authentic Hawaiian cuisine. The menu seemed more like a fusion of American and Asian dishes than anything particularly Hawaiian, but... I've never been to Hawaii anyway so I can't really tell. :P

We had the baked oysters, the Giant Squid Steak, and the Loco Moco (basically a Salisbury Steak topped with a fried egg). I liked how tender the squid was despite how thick it was, and the grilled flavor of the Loco Moco's burger reminded me of my favorite burgers from the Utopia Cafe in Toronto.

The menu isn't as fresh and adventurous as I'd hoped it would be -- in fact, it's very simple fare, but I found it quite tasty. Prices are a bit hefty at PhP350 up for the main courses, but if you have carnivorous fantasies of sinking your teeth into inch-thick burgers and squid steaks (roar!), The Polu Kai Grill is a mighty contender.

*Cupcakes by Sonja and The Polu Kai Grill are located at the Serendra Piazza, Bonifacio Global City, Taguig.

27 November 2006

winter wonderlands and sunsets

The rink glows a magical, icy blue. People glide through the mist, bundled up in sweaters. Suddenly, a collective murmur of excitement ripples through the crowd as snowflakes start drifting gently from the sky.

Yes, I'm still in Manila.

SM Mall of Asia's International Ice Skating Rink, to be exact.

After the bout of warm weather we'd been having recently, the cloud of fog rising from the ice was impossible to resist. I soon found myself lacing on a pair of skates, raring to join the beautiful, romantic, and otherworldly melange of people twirling on the ice. Of course, the moment I stepped on the ice, it was neither beautiful nor romantic. Otherwordly, perhaps -- I must have looked like some freak show clanging across the rink.

An hour of 'winter' and an immeasurable amount of public humiliation later, I realized I wouldn't be having any Serendipity-esque moments anytime soon (at least not until I continued to skate like a clown)... so I threw in my skates and headed over to the esplanade to watch the sun set instead. There's nothing quite like sitting on the seawall and watching the waves break across the rocks, letting the salty sea breeze run through your hair. I've always loved places where the metropolis meets nature, because of how it allows me to be near the addicting hustle and bustle of the big city, yet feel so grounded at the same time -- and the esplanade behind the Mall of Asia is a wonderful example of such a place.

I remember the last time I felt this calm and at peace with myself. I was sitting on the shores of Lake Ontario, wondering what would happen to me after I left Toronto.

I thought, then, that the end had come.

Now I know it was only the beginning.

19 November 2006

galileo enoteca - not another italian restaurant

Not another Italian restaurant.

That was my first thought when I heard about Galileo Enoteca. I mean, there can only be so much Italian restaurants in Metro Manila -- it was starting to get too cumbersome to weed out the good places from the multitude of mediocre ones.

Galileo Enoteca, however, proved to be quite a gem.

Tucked on small side street just past the Edsa & Shaw Boulevard intersection, the enoteca looks tiny when viewed from outside. Primarily a delicatessen, you will be greeted with a chiller stocked with an exquisite assortment of meats and cheeses as you step in. It's a bit cramped in the foyer, but deeper into this brick-walled cellar are more shelves of Italian fine foods (and Baci chocolates!) and wine. Candlelight, frescos on the wall, wooden tables & benches complete the quiet, romantic atmosphere.

The menu contains the usual Italian fare, but Galileo Enoteca is set apart from most Italian restaurants in Metro Manila by their use of items sold in the deli (vs. locally sourced ingredients) for some of the dishes in the menu. I opted for a prix fixe meal for PhP400 a person. These meals change daily depending on whatever ingredients are on hand. Today, it consisted of fresh anchovies & focaccia, fresh olives, a cold cuts (prosciutto, salami, and mortadella) & cheese platter, salad drizzled with vinnaigrette (which was delicious considering I don't normally like vinaigrette), a plate of Penne Con Porcini (a cream-based pasta with Shiitake mushrooms), a glass of wine (your choice of house red, white, or sweet wine) and a cup of Molinari coffee (you can opt for tea instead) to complete your meal.

Needless to say, I was completely bowled over.


*Galileo Enoteca is located at Calbayog corner Malinao St., Mandaluyong City. Reservations are recommended.

the emperor's new shoes

Ladies and gentlemen, I have discovered the cure for shopaholicism... drum roll, please... gain 10lbs!

Okay -- so weight gain isn't exactly a good thing, especially since I really should be watching out for my blood sugar. But instead of bemoaning the ten pounds I was supposed to lose but instead gained in Toronto, I'll look at the bright side and just be glad it's curbed my urge to shop.

Except for shoes, that is.

Shoes always fit, even on your fat days. Of course, it helped that they recently instituted a dress code at work, which meant 90% of my shoe rack was inappropriate, save for my tweed ballet flats, my brown boots, a pair of batterred black heels, and an even more battered pair of black boots. It was the perfect excuse to go on an obsessive hunt for the perfect pair of comfy-but-not-as-fugly-as-the-black-loafers-your-tita-wears, dress-code-worthy shoes! ;) After two failed purchases (boots + sandals that seemed to be on a quest to murder my feet), I finally found these: Lacoste's uber-comfy white loafers with papansin blue soles (otherwise known as choy shoes*). Yay! They're so preppy, I feel like I should be sailing a yacht somewhere! And for once my feet don't feel like they're being tortured! I llaaaahhhv it! I will use them forever and ever and ever!

*choy shoes (choy-shus) 1. n shoes na binurdahan ng lola ni choy 2. adj. shoes that look normal but really aren't. To illustrate:
   sheila: Choy, bakit mukhang normal ata sapatos mo ngayon?
   choy: (tips foot to display the purple sole of his shoes) Hindi a!

Ehehehe. Peace, Choy!

14 November 2006

in search of the next big thing

the nearest we get to heaven today
is in seeing a distant osprey
lift its wings, prepare for passage
bear all the weight of our imagining.
- "flight" by charmaine cadeau,
off the Toronto subway in spring 2006

Hello, stranger.

It's been a while.

Two months, to be exact, since I last wrote an entry. Four months since I last felt normal. It's strange, really, how a few months ago, time seemed to be on fast forward. So much life, so little time.

Now, there is only time.